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Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine


On September 1, 2020, changes were made to the Québec Immunization Program. These changes are based on a recommendation made by the Comité sur l’immunisation du Québec and concern vaccines administered at school. To find out more, go to the Changes made to the school-based vaccination program section.


Vaccination is the best protection against chickenpox and its complications. Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. This virus remains in the organism and can be reactivated years later, causing shingles.

This vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 1 year or older who has not been vaccinated or who has not had chickenpox.

For people aged 50 and older, the shingles vaccine (Shingrix) is recommended instead of the chickenpox vaccine. In addition, women who are given the chickenpox vaccine must avoid becoming pregnant in the month after vaccination.

People who are vaccinated against chickenpox probably have a lower risk of getting shingles.

Since June 1, 2019, Québec’s immunization schedule has provided for the administration of 2 doses of the measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox vaccine at 12 months and 18 months of age. The vaccine protects against these 4 diseases.


Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, e.g. redness at the injection site. Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, e.g. cold, gastro, headache.

Chicken pox vaccine is safe. In most cases, it does not cause any reaction.

The nature and frequency of known reactions to vaccine
FrequencyKnown reactions to this vaccine

(less than 10% of people)

  • Pain and redness at the injection site
  • Blisters similar to those of chicken pox (less than 10 blisters) at the injection site or elsewhere on the body; these blisters are not very contagious and clear up quickly

What to do after vaccination

Tips to follow immediately following vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving premises where vaccine is received. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination.

If you feel side effects, immediately inform the person giving the vaccine. That person will be able to treat you immediately.

Tips to follow at home

If you experience redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, damp compress on it.

Cover the blisters. If this is not possible, contacts with premature newborns and people with weakened immune system should be avoided as long as these blisters are present.

Use a medication for fever or discomfort if needed. Do not give medication containing aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to people under age 18 for 6 weeks following their vaccination.

When to seek medical help

See a doctor if one of the following applies to you:

  • You experience serious and unusual symptoms
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of improving
  • Your symptoms last over 48 hours

Last update: May 30, 2019


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